The Mysterious Contents of a Traveling Notary’s BagBrenda Stone
The bag or briefcase carried to appointments by a brand new traveling notary is usually a lightweight and slim model. It contains very little–a few pens, a notarial stamp, notary journal, and a pocket for carrying documents. However, once notaries begin traveling and having experiences with signers, they learn to be ready to accommodate a multitude of situations. Soon, the traveling notary bag is bulging at the seems, a zipper breaks, or the thing won’t shut at all! It must be upgraded to a larger size.
As the miles click by and notary journals fill up with signatures from appointments, a notary’s bag selection leans to something bigger and more capable of organizing gear. Some notaries eventually graduate to an elaborate briefcase with wheels, and zippered pockets so that every tool has its own assigned space.
Mobile notaries deal with people where they live and not in sterile offices. They solve problems in the field. And with each person, home, and problem solved, notaries learn how to make it work better next time. That usually means making room for another widget! Below, I will share a list of notary bag items that my notary colleagues have listed over the last 16 years on various notary forums and groups. Some of the items are in my own bag.
Many of the items in the list seem peculiar, especially when viewed by a person who has never worked on the road or at the kitchen tables of people from all walks of life. For instance —
Why would the notary’s bag contain a red plastic rectangle about the size of a business card with a rectangular hole cut out of its middle?
It is a Reizen SignaMag to help guide the signature of a signer who is blind.
Large soft marshmallows in a plastic bag don’t seem very notary-like, so why would a notary carry them on assignments?
A notary who serves rural Arkansas said that she keeps them in her bag to toss to suspicious yard dogs who need a distraction. She claims this trick keeps them confused and busy since they have likely never seen a marshmallow previously. They sniff at them, then gobble them up. Sometimes, the wet and sticky marshmallows glue onto the roofs of their mouths or fall out and become lodged between the pads of their feet. The dogs try to figure it all out and forget she is there. (This Arkansas notary advises that her trick works on cows and horses, as well!)
Suppose you see a jar of Vicks VapoRub tumble out of the bag; would you think it was there to help a chest cold?
Not exactly; a dab of Vicks VapoRub under your nose will help you not smell those bad smells in homes where hygiene and cleanliness hasn’t been a priority.
Why socks? Some borrowers or general notary clients do not want notaries to wear shoes into their homes for floor maintenance purposes or religious reasons.
Would you be surprised to see a small collapsible picnic table appear from the trunk of a mobile notary’s car?
Mobile notaries often carry these with them because some signers do not have a clear space at which to sit and sign several documents.
Helpful Gear and Gadgets
These items will come in handy to solve problems in certain signing locations.
- Battery-operated small personal fans in case of an assignment in an 85-degree home where an elderly person rules the thermostat and the notary is feels too warm
- Cans of flea, roach, and mosquito repellent for homes with pest problems or outdoor signing locations
- Cat treats
- Dog treats (and, big soft marshmallows!)
- Four clipboards or a couple of lap desks to provide hard surfaces for signing and stamping
- Magnifier sheet to make the fine print larger
- Pen-Again, a special pen for aging clients
- Portable scanner (types and sizes vary)
- Portable table and benches (as mentioned above)
- Reading glasses (extra pairs for the signers if they can’t find theirs)
- Reizen SignaMag or similar tool (as mentioned above to help blind/aging sign on the line)
- Super bright flashlight/battery torchlight to see dark street signs and numbers before you pull into a driveway
- Vicks VapoRub (Because notaries will go into homes with odor problems during their careers.)
Tools for Notarial Acts
You’d be surprised how many notaries carry almost all of these items.
- Loose certificate forms of all types (jurats, certificates of acknowledgment, verifications, copy certification)
- Copy of notary commission
- Checklist(s) to guide new notaries through the appointment
- Darkening agent for notary seal embosser
- ID Guide
- Thumbprint pads (for states that require or allow thumbprints to be captured in journals)
- Notary journal (record book)
- Notary manual and/or laws
- Notary seal embosser
- Pens (4 blue and 4 black)
- Receipt book
- Stamp with Notary Name, Notary Public, State of Xxxxxxx
- Stamp with venue (State of Yourstate // County of ___________)
- Stamp – official notarial seal
- Stamps with certificate language (jurats, certificates of acknowledgment, verifications, copy certification)
Don’t forget to leave your name with everyone you meet!
- Business cards
- Promotional Items – magnets and calendars
- Promotional pens with notary’s name and number on them
Notaries have their own personal favorites when it comes to office supplies.
- Binder clips
- Envelope slitter
- FedEx & UPS envelopes and shipping labels
- Gallon size plastic ZipLoc bags to hold documents together
- Note pad for taking notes at the table
- Paper clips
- Plain envelopes imprinted with Amount Enclosed $______ Borrower ___________
- Post-it notes
- Post-it glue
- Rubber finger cot
- Finger wetting gel pot
- Scotch tape
- Super large elastic bands
- Stapler and staples
- Wet wipes to clean hands/fingertips
- Blank paper (legal and letter size) in case a reprint is needed on one page or two.
I’m sure that many other types of widgets and gadgets not mentioned above are useful to notaries; and, some of the items mentioned in this article aren’t applicable for mobile notaries in all states. But, it’s a sure bet that the bag will grow fatter and fuller as a mobile notary’s career lengthens.
Let us know in the comments what’s in YOUR notary bag.
Above all, have a great week!